SIX GUIDELINES TO AN INTERVIEW
1. It’s about the employer’s need, not your own.
You are there as an answer to your prospective employer’s problem or need. Therefore focus first on the employer’s need, not your own. Sometimes job candidates are so focused on the “what is in it for me” syndrome that they forget about the main interview objective. That objective is to get to the next step in the process. To be considered. If a candidate fails at the first step, salary, benefits, and flexibility, the keys to the washroom, and a lap top computer do not matter. Leave questions about compensation and benefits for later in the interview process, and only ask them after the employer has expressed some interest in offering you the position. Additionally, candidates who have the qualifications the employer needs and who can present themselves well, often can obtain a higher offer than they initially expected.
2. Dress for the occasion.
Even if you are just going into a facility to pick up an application, dress professionally. Leave the sundresses, sandals, tank top, cutoffs, and other casual attire at home. If you wear perfume or after-shave, use it sparingly. Even if the new workplace is casual, it is best to be conservatively and professionally dressed. Interviewees may find themselves talking to someone on an impromptu basis. Dressing professionally makes an individual look and feel more confident also. First impressions count. One vocational counsellor suggests that “It takes 15 seconds to make a first impression, so make a good one.” My experience as a Career Coach is that within 3 to 5 seconds, an opinion is formed.
3. Arrive early.
Arrive at least 10 minutes early for the interview and know the exact spelling and pronunciation of the interviewer’s name. You will have time to do this by asking the receptionist. Take note of the person’s title, name, address, and the location of the organization, as this will be needed to send a thank-you letter after the interview. Spell the interviewer’s name properly. Several employers I have talked to often reflect that they would be hesitant to hire someone who cannot pay enough attention to detail, to even take the time to spell their names correctly.
4. Be prepared to answer behavioral interviewing questions.
Behavioral interviewing is a technique that is becoming increasingly popular with many hiring managers. I have found that the best predictor of future behavior is one’s past behavior.
In a behavioral-based interview, the hiring manager may ask a series of questions that probe deeper into previous on-the-job experiences or actions. For example, the hiring manager may say, “Tell me about a specific situation with your last employer in which you really were bothered by the actions of a co-worker.” The manager then may follow up with another question that asks the applicant to describe the results and effects of his or her particular action.
5. Ask appropriate questions.
The interview is not only an opportunity for applicants to share information about their background, but it also is a time for them to find out about their prospective employer. Questions initially need to be focused on the employer’s needs and not, as mentioned earlier, be about salary or benefit packages. For example, the candidate may ask the employer about goals for the position in question, including immediate and long-term goals. What challenges has the department faced in the past? What opportunities are there for the future? Who held the position before this? If the predecessor received a promotion, what accomplishments led to the promotion? What personality style and cluster of characteristics would a successful person need to have to do the job well?
6. Ask for the job.
At the end of the interview, an applicant who likes the way the interview has progressed needs to ask for the job. This is one of the most important parts of the interview that so often gets omitted or forgotten. After thanking the interviewer for his or her time, the applicant must tell the interviewer clearly that he or she would like to be considered for the position. Unless you do this, the interviewer has no way of knowing that you are still interested. Not hearing that question, they may form their own conclusion that something in the interview caused you to change your mind about wanting that job.